Job Seekers: Beware of Sex, Drugs and Typos

  • By Andrea Coombes, MarketWatch
  • November 03, 2014

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For boomers and retirees who are looking for work, the labor-market data are looking good, but as any job seeker knows, landing a job comes down to the details — your industry, your location and, increasingly, your online profile and presence.

If you're looking right now for, say, a job in the leisure and hospitality industry, you're facing stiff competition in the form of an unemployment rate of 8.3%, versus a 3% unemployment rate for government workers and a 3.5% rate for those in the financial sector, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data for September, not seasonally adjusted.

Meanwhile, job seekers who live in Georgia face an 8.1% unemployment rate, compared with rates under 4% in Utah, South Dakota, Nebraska and North Dakota, according to preliminary BLS data for August, seasonally adjusted.

Still, while it might be difficult to change your industry or location, you do have control over your online presence — and that matters.

Fully 79% of recruiters and hiring managers said they’ve made a hire through LinkedIn while 26% said they’ve hired through Facebook and 14% said they’ve hired through Twitter, according to the seventh annual Social Recruiting survey from Jobvite, a provider of recruiting software and tools for companies. There were 1,855 survey respondents nationwide, including some Jobvite clients.

For some industries, LinkedIn “has almost become a substitute for a résumé,” said Dan Finnigan, chief executive of Jobvite. “Recruiters trust what people put on LinkedIn because it’s public.”

After looking at LinkedIn, he said, recruiters then “turn to other places online, like Facebook and Twitter, to find out more who you are and whether you’re someone who, in their judgment, would be a fit in the company.”

That said, not every industry has a strong presence on LinkedIn, and job seekers looking for a non-management role might have better luck on Facebook.

“It does depend on your occupation. LinkedIn is quite strong with middle-management and above in most industries now,” Finnigan said. “For people like that, without a doubt they’ve got to pay very close attention to their LinkedIn profile, maintain it, keep it current, connect to as many people as they possibly can.”

The bad news is that your social-media presence can cause a hiring manager to scratch you off their list of candidates. More than half — 55% — of the recruiters surveyed said they “reconsidered a candidate based on their social profile,” up from 42% who said that a year ago.

And 61% of those recruiters said the social profile of the job seeker led to a “negative reconsideration.”

What sorts of posts and comments may lead to a negative reaction from recruiters? References to illegal drugs and posts that are “sexual” topped the list, but profanity and spelling mistakes also posed a big problem.

Specifically, 83% of recruiters said references to illegal drugs caused them to reconsider a candidate negatively, 70% said sexual posts, 66% said spelling and grammar mistakes, 63% said profanity, 51% said references to guns and 44% said references to alcohol, according to Jobvite.

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